Purchasing/Living in a Condominium
Owners Guide to Condo Living
In the fall of 1999, we purchased our condo unit from a set of building plans and sales brochures. The sales agreement contained a tentative occupancy date of July 2000. Although construction had started, we felt that the builder was a little optimistic, so we added another 3 months to the potential occupancy date.
Buying a New Condo Unit
In the fall of 1999, we purchased our condo unit from a set of building plans and sales brochures. The sales agreement contained a tentative occupancy date of July 2000. Although construction had started, we felt that the builder was a little optimistic, so we added another 3 months to the potential occupancy date. Feeling like prudent planners, we arranged for the sale of our existing home in October. You might have guessed that our unit was not ready for another 3 months. Unfortunately for the consumer, the Home Warranty Program provided that, if the developer provides proper and timely notice, the expenses incurred to live in temporary accommodations was our burden.
Prior to taking possession, we were asked to inspect our unit. More surprises. Some cupboards were missing. Shower stall doors were not installed. The fireplace was missing, as were some door handles. The bathroom countertop was the wrong colour and the cement floor under the carpet had not been sealed as per the sales agreement. Some bathroom fixtures had not been upgraded and the microwave oven could not be installed. There were many other minor deficiencies. The slow response to fixing these in-suite items was most annoying, although the developer’s priority of responding to others who were still waiting to move in was understandable. How long before all items were set right? Difficult to believe, but it was another 3 years.
Shortly after the first family moved into our building, a Steering Committee was created to guide the owners through the mountain of issues associated with the Condominium Property Act, the proposed Condo Plan, bylaws, and Home Warranty Program. Committee members immediately attended educational seminars offered by the local chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute and then shared their knowledge with other owners at weekly info sessions. Everyone soon realized that the services of a good condo lawyer and engineering firm would be a priority. Their advice and guidance was priceless throughout the interim occupancy period and while preparing for the registration and turnover meeting. Obtaining this knowledge at an early stage of occupancy and before the building was registered also provided another gold bar for our future owners.
Our committee had carefully studied the proposed Plan and bylaws and became aware of a number of items that would create problems for future boards. Our committee was able to persuade the developer to make changes before registering these documents. The Board of Directors was increased from 5 to 7 persons. The locks on the unit main entry doors and the in-suite HVAC (heat pumps) were identified as common elements and thereby would be the responsibility of the corporation to maintain and repair. This would ensure that the corporation master key would always be able to open individual unit doors for emergency entry and that no unauthorized or unqualified repair person would be able to make adjustments to the sensitive HVAC system.
Our building was registered in June of 2001, and at about the same time, the developer went into receivership. Suspecting that the developer was having financial difficulties, City Hall was asked to hold onto any performance bond monies to ensure property taxes be paid before registration, and that performance bonds remained secured to ensure the substantial completion of our highrise building. Early contact with the Home Warranty program was extremely helpful. Financial companies having interests in the project were contacted and all concerned put a hold on registration until financial concerns were satisfied. The developer was thereby restricted from access to the purchasers’ money held in trust. This enabled the transfer of the ownership of the units to the purchasers without financial loss.
It was three and a half years after registration that most of the big deficiencies were corrected, including the replacement of the roof, re-caulking of the windows, and a lot of work on the pool. A very active social committee has made our building a very pleasant place to live. We were blessed with a very proactive Board of seven Directors who created an atmosphere of cooperation and participation by all residents. The Board meets on the last Wednesday of every month. These meetings are open to all residents for the first 30 minutes at which various committees report their activities and ideas. Ideas from all residents are received and given careful consideration. A calendar of social events and a newsletter are provided monthly.
Even after the many trials and frustrations encountered in getting this building finished, the atmosphere in this building remains positive and pleasant. Buying a new condo unit from a set of plans is a daunting experience, but maintaining a positive attitude and obtaining professional help in a timely manner renders most of the mountains into manageable molehills.
Gerrit Roosenboom has been a Director on two condo Boards for 10 years, and has served on the Board of Directors of a number of CCI chapters across Canada.
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